Establish a plan for next year

Pharmaceutical Representative

A mission statement is a clear vision, understood by you and everyone in your organization.

Write a smart mission statement

A mission statement is a clear vision, understood by you and everyone in your organization. It is the first and most fundamental step to take before deciding on any change. A lack of a mission statement that is lived by the organization is the main reason that organizations go off-track during change. A mission pulls people into the future.

What is your mission? Can you state it right now? Is it still the right mission? Is the mission still worth pursuing?

If you are not clear on the answers to these questions, you may not be living according to your mission statement. You'll be significantly more successful when clearly focused on, and living, a mission everyday.

Even though good mission statements are not difficult to create, some organizations spend up to a year on them and yet produce nothing useful. General Motors spent millions of dollars in staff time and retreat settings to produce the following statement: "The fundamental purpose of General Motors is to provide products and service of such quality that our customers will receive superior value, our employees and business partners will share in our success and our stockholders will receive a sustained, superior return on their investment."

The toughest part of any plan is execution. Start by asking the "right" questions, and then just do it.

What separates you? Relative to your competitors, are you better? Faster? Cheaper? More unique?

The following questions are good monthly reviews for individuals and companies:


• What business should I/we be in?


• Why do I/we exist? What purpose do I/we serve?


• What's unique or distinctive about me/us?


• Who are my/our principle customers, users or clients?


• What are my/our principle products and services - now and in the future?


• What are my/our principle markets - today and in the future?


• What are my/our principle sources of business - present and future?


• What is different about my/our business from three years ago?


• What's likely to be different three years from now?


• What trends are affecting my/our business? And how am I/are we adjusting?

Although the setting of your mission is beyond the scope of this article, consider, the following checklist to give your plan a jump start.

Enlarge your present scope. Don't just sell your product or service. Create a "world." What end result do you see if everyone used your product service in an ultimate way? Your mission statement should not read, "I/we sell…" but should create a vision of what will happen when your world has been created.

Reclarify your identity. Play to your long suit, your passion. Write down one strength. Don't judge it. If you don't know a strength, what is the one strength you have that people keep telling you about?

Be flexible. When you are sitting around envisioning the future, rewrite your mission according to the various scenarios you create. This exercise boosts confidence that even though your current mission might change if your business switches track, you'll have a new mission to guide you through.

Be able to convert, alter, enlarge or contract all your plans. Build in an escape clause. Assume that your mission statement will change several times as you experience results. The National Basketball Association used to make money through ticket sales, and now creates the majority of its profits through licensing and other side businesses.

Simplify. Ford Motors sold as many cars in 1992 as in 1982, with half as many workers. The Ford Taurus has only 10 bumper parts; General Motors' Grand Prix has 100. Southwest Airlines has a simple point-to-point route system; others have complex hub-and-spoke system routing. Ask yourself: "How can I /we make this easier?"

Eliminate decay. Have regular meetings in which you and your peers ask yourselves, "Why do we do this?" Hold "dumb rules" contests in which employees compete for submitting the most disrespected rule. "Dumb things we do around here that don't make sense any more." Torrence, CA-based Hughes Federal Credit Union held such a contest, received over 400 suggestions and implemented many of those, saving thousands of dollars.

Ask yourself, "What am I doing?" and "Why am I doing it?" and "Am I making this more efficient when I shouldn't be doing this at all?"

Implement your vision. Give everyone the opportunity to contribute. Review their suggestions and give feedback on all of them, and why they can or cannot be implemented.

Spend no longer then 45 to 60 days on your statement. Companies have gone out of business putting statements together. Be focused and don't draw out the process.

Keep it short, perhaps no longer than four values. If you or every employee cannot memorize your personal or company's vision easily and, more importantly, make all decisions by it, it won't work.

Move fast! Correct as you go. You cannot have all the details worked out if there is no time. Open up, reveal, inform constantly. Tell your people the truth as much as possible at each stage. Start change where you will experience success and go for the early win. PR

Janet Lapp specializes in guiding people through change and has authored "Plant Your Feet Firmly in Mid-Air," " Dancing with Tigers" and "The Change." She can be reached at (800) 435-2927.